Earlier this month in a case styled Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a significant decision for religious employers throughout the country. For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a ministerial exception to employment discrimination suits. The ministerial exception bars discrimination claims by individuals in the clergy against certain religious organizations or religious educational institutions under the theory that government regulation of religion is prohibited by the First Amendment freedom of religion.
Group health plans typically provide that when the plan pays benefits for treatment of injuries incurred as the result of a third party’s negligence, the plan is entitled to reimbursement for those payments from the proceeds of injured participant’s recovery (if any) from the third party. In general, those kinds of provisions are enforceable under federal law, and careful drafting of precise and unambiguous language can help ensure that the plan is entitled to reimbursement even if the participant’s recovery does not fully compensate the participant for the harm suffered by the participant – that is, make the participant whole. Further, again assuming appropriate language in the plan, the plan’s reimbursement will not be subject to reduction for a share of the participant’s attorneys’ fees. That appears to be the state of the law in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Until about a month ago, it was the law in Pennsylvania as well.
For all of our devoted readers out there, we want you to know that we’re not just content with the status quo. Nope. We want to be better, and to that end, we’re going to be rolling out several new things on the Employment Essentials blog in 2012, starting in February and continuing throughout the year. While we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag early on what those are, we can tell you that a lot of what we plan to do is going to be somewhat unique in the blogosphere. There are going to be new features, new content, and new ways for the Employment Essentials team to interact and connect with our readers and followers. On our end, we’re very excited about these improvements, and we hope they’ll enhance your experience with us. Keep visiting our blog regularly in 2012 as we reveal all the new ‘essentials’ you need in the world of employment, labor and HR!
The Employment Essentials blog apologizes for being inaccessible the last several days. We confess to failing to follow appropriate guidelines at our New Year’s Holiday party, with the end result being a several-day long hangover. But we’re back up and running into 2012, starting with this excellent piece on the always fact-specific ‘going and coming’ rule.